Judge Power is under scrutiny again.
This time, The 81 Development Company wants Power removed from their case for what they say is inappropriate comments that Power made during a July hearing. They say that Power stopped listening to their arguments and already has his mind made up essentially without giving them their opportunity to be heard. They say he said things like “the one person who doesn’t care is me” before he ruled against them.
If we’re all being honest, Judge Power has a bit of a reputation for inappropriate courtroom demeanor. Here he is in the Robert Schwander resentencing, failing to follow the law and saying inappropriate, sarcastic things on the record while he was doing it.
Here are the Michigan Judicial Canons. Basically, the rules for good judge behavior. You don’t have to get very far into them to see words like “integrity” and “independence.” The one that seems most lost on Judge Power is Canon 2B which says, “..a judge should treat every person fairly, with courtesy and respect.”
Is it courtesy and respect to admit in open court that you don’t care about the case? It is respectful to say you’re going to “whack these things with a hammer?”
I wish those judicial canons requiring courtesy and respect were taken seriously and enforced. But you only get one birthday wish each year, and unfortunately, I have more pressing matters.
Judge Power sneered to The 81 Development Company that he wasn’t going to make the case “the center point in my life.” What Power fails to grasp is that to the people who appear before him, their cases are the center point in their lives. He at least owes them what the law affords them, which is an opportunity to be heard with respect.
Just in case you thought Power was the only one with a decorum problem, here’s 86th District Court Judge Thomas Phillips snapping at a defense attorney. At 3:20 on the video he interrupts the defense attorney to say, “Please tell us something we don’t know, okay?” All while being very nice to Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Cooney.
And let’s not forget Civics Lessons with 86th District Court Judge Michael Stepka: “The court is a separate branch of government. When are you going to understand that?” That snide remark wasn’t in court, but still:
These are just the anecdotal cases that we know about, because they got attention. How many times do judges snip at litigants every single day that we don’t ever hear about? How many times do litigants, who are already having it bad enough appearing in court, have to tolerate a judge pouring salt in the wounds? But don’t talk back, or you’ll be out of line.
Motions to recuse are hardly ever successful. Judges like to have each other’s back.